MEHRANGARH, located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, is one of the largest forts in India. Built around 1460 by RAO JODHA, the fort is situated 410ft above the city, and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Inside its boundaries, there are several Palaces known for their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards. The imprints of cannonball hits, by attacking armies of Jodhpur, can still be seen on the second gate.
MEHRANGARH : MIHIR (Sanskrit) Sun or Sun Deity and GARH (Sanskrit) Fort, thus SUN FORT, according to the Rajasthani language pronunciation conventions MIHIRGARH has changed to MEHRANGARH. The Sun Deity has been the chief deity of the Rathore Dynasty. Though the fort was originally started in 1459, most of the fort, which stands today, dates from 1638 – 1678. The fort is located at the centre of the city spreading over 5km on top of a high hill. Its walls, which are up to 118ft high and 69ft wide, protect some of the most beautiful and historic palaces in Rajasthan.
The brilliantly-crafted and decorated palaces include MOTI MAHAL (Pearl Palace), PHOOL MAHAL ( Flower Palace), SHEESH MAHAL ( Mirror Palace), SILEH KHANA and DAULAT KHANA.
There are seven gates, which include JAYAPOL (meaning ‘Victory’), built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies ; FATTEHPOL ( also meaning ‘Victory’) built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to mark the defeat of the Mughals. The “palm imprints” upon these still attract much attention.
The Museum in the MEHRANGARH Fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan. In one section of the Museum, there is a selection of old Royal palanquins, including the elaborate domed gilt MAHADOL Palanquin, which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730. The Museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms.
ELEPHANT’S HOWDAHS : The HOWDAHS were a kind of two-compartment wooden seat (mostly covered with gold and silver embossed sheets), which were fastened on to the elephant’s back. The ‘front’ compartment, with more leg-space and a raised protective metal sheet was meant for Kings or Royalty and the ‘rear’ (smaller one) for a reliable bodyguard disguised as ‘fly-whisk attendant’.
PALANQUINS : were a popular means of travel and circumambulation for the ladies of the nobility, up to the second quarter of the 20th century. They were also used by male nobility and royals on special occasions.
ARMOURY : This gallery displays a rare collection of armour from every period in Jodhpur. On display are sword hilts I jade, silver, rhino horn and ivory, shields studded with rubies, emeralds and pearls and guns with gold and silver work on the barrels. The gallery also has on display the personal swords of many Emperors, among them the outstanding historical piece like the KHAANDA of RAO JODHA, weighing over 3kg, the sword of AKBAR the GREAT and the sword of TIMUR.
PAINTINGS : This gallery displays colours of Marwar – Jodhpur, the finest examples of Marwar painting.
CHAMUNDA MATAJI TEMPLE, was Rao Jodha’s favourite Goddess. He brought her idol from the old capital of MANDORE in 1460, and installed her in MEHRANGARH ( MAA CHAMUNDI was the KUL DEVI of the PARIHAR Rulers of MANDORE) She remains the Maharaja’s and the Royal Family’s ISHT DEVI or ADOPTED GODDESS, and is worshipped by most of Jodhpur’s citizens as well. Crowds throng MEHRANGARH during the DUSSEHRA celebrations.